Finding a balance between work and family is becoming more and more of a growing problem in today’s generation. Everyone seems to be very career driven, which is great. But family is still a priority in everyone’s lives. How do you find the perfect balance between the two?
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The Perfect Balance Between Career and Mothering
I am a practicing physical therapist and have never stopped working since I graduated from my doctoral program for physical therapy. Even during my 4 pregnancies and while raising my 4 beautiful girls, I have continued to work. Yes, I did take maternity leave each time, but all 4 times the length of my maternity leave has varied from 4 weeks to 3 months in duration.
It is a blessing that I am able to manage my career on a part time basis while raising my kids and being a stay-at-home mom. My hours are flexible as a home health physical therapist, and I am able to work around my husband’s schedule. My husband and I have created the perfect balance of career life and parent life that works just right for our family. Our quality time with our kids is a priority, and we don’t allow our work to interfere.
When our kids are not participating in school, extra curricular activities or sports but are home, we value that time they are home as something precious. Our energy and attention is on our kids. They are only awake for so many hours and we want to make sure they know we want to spend time with them.
My husband and I take every opportunity we have with the kids to make it enjoyable, memorable, special and valuable for them. I value time so much. Time goes by so quickly in my opinion, and I want to make sure I make every moment count with my kids.
I think that’s why a lot of people have trouble balancing work and family. Because parents don’t feel like they have enough time to spend focusing on both. I will address this more later.
Time Management Is KEY
I recently volunteered to help out a church function in which my husband and I were providing information for other parents on the topic “Balancing Work and Family”.
My husband and I had a lot of fun gathering material for this event in which we got to share our own personal experiences with our careers and time management with our family but also we found some great research regarding this popular topic.
Today, I want to share with you the information I have gathered and applied to my life in regards to having a career and also being a mom – a mom who is very involved in the children’s lives.
I do want to say, since I am married, this post is pertaining to households with a two-parent home.
If you didn’t know, I was raised by a single mom. So I do have some knowledge on that topic, but for today, this post is geared towards homes with two parents living within the home.
So, let’s get right into it. I have 8 great tips for balancing your Career and Family life!
7 Tips To Find Balance Between Your
Work And Family
1. Husband and wife need excellent, clear COMMUNICATION with each other and the kids
This one is listed first for a reason, it’s the most important. Communication is KEY!! It’s important for a successful marriage and it’s important to be successful with parenting. In order to balance your career with your family, you need to communicate with your spouse regarding so many different factors: schedule, school, pick-up and drop-off times, kids extra curricular activities, shopping, meal time, bed time….the list goes on and on.
My husband and I have found that if we clearly communicate what we expect from one another in terms of the schedule, our life is less chaotic and everyone has a clear understanding about where to be and at what time. It just all flows together
Communication regarding schedule also helps to eliminate the possibility of wasted time. One parent picks up the kid at the school bus while the other parent runs to the store to get the milk and eggs.
With your career taking away from time with your family, you want to be able to maximize as much time possible with your family. That should be the ultimate goal. Research says that the maximum amount of time that you should be away from your child in a 1 week period is 20 hours (especially during their first three years of life). Quality time spent with your kids has direct correlation with their character development.
The better you communicate your schedules and get them in sync, the more time you will have available to spend with your precious children who are growing up so quickly. Try to come up with a schedule that works best for your household. You can try alternating work shifts with your spouse. Have one person work the morning shift while the other works the evening shift. That is sort of what my husband and I do. Tag team and trade off time with your kids so that your children are always with a parent, rather than a daycare of some kind.
I love alternating work schedules because it also give my kids quality time with their dad without me being home and interfering with my spouse’s parenting style.
2. Husband and wife need to talk about their personal GOALS with their careers (promotions/finances), how much they want to work, and what are they willing to sacrifice
Take one night with your spouse and have a serious talk about what the both of you expect out of the other in terms of career goals. How long do you plan on working at this job for, how many hours a week do you plan to be out of the house working, how much money do we need to make to pay the bills, should we pay for child care or should one of us stay home with the kids?
What do you wish you had more of? Do you hope to have more time with your kids? Were you hoping to make more money since you have been with the same company for 5 years now? Maybe you hoped your spouse would come home and put away the briefcase and spend more time with the kids at night.
These are all very important questions to have with your spouse and both of you should be in agreement with one another. If you make these decisions separately, you are bound to have problems down the road.
Obviously your children are priority over work, but work is what puts the food on the table! You and your spouse need to discuss your financial and work related goals, have a plan that works best for your family and that way you will feel at peace with the lifestyle you have set in place for your family.
3. The #1 cause of stress in a marriage are money problems-husband and wife need to have a family BUDGET and financial goals
Did you know that? The #1 cause of stress in a marriage are money problems and money fights. You are probably thinking right now, “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense”. Well, let’s do something about it.
Before I got married, my husband and I took the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey. (I highly recommend buying the Financial Peace University Kit. It changed our lives completely and helped us become debt free. You can buy Financial Peace University by clicking HERE). During our engagement we learned more than we ever could have dreamed. Like I said, this course completely changed our lives.
It’s not too late for you either. You could take the course at a local church by signing up online or you could read Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover”. This book has all the answers to every financial questions you might have.
I love this book because it gives you a step by step plan on how to get out of debt, how to grow wealth and to eventually get to the point when you can give to others and help those in need.
This book is great for couples. If you and your spouse are struggling with saving money and/or having difficulty coming to an agreement on how to spend your money which is producing a lot of tension in the home when the topic is brought up, this book can resolve all those issues.
When you are at peace with your finances, your career won’t feel like a obligation any more but will feel like a joy. Don’t let your career dictate your life just because you need to pay the bills. Once you are financially secure and stable, I truly believe your career will be more enjoyable and you won’t feel the strain to work more to earn more.
Again, the ultimate goal is to have more family time. Don’t let the money aspect take away from the time you have with your family.
4. Commit to at least 6 MEALS A WEEK together as a whole family (breakfast, lunch or dinner)
This is a tip I read years and years ago in a family magazine and it WORKS!!! Since I have been married, I have committed to 6 meals or more a week with my family. This means, a home cooked meal (it can be microwaved, it doesn’t have to be fancy) at your kitchen or dining room table with all your family members gathered together in one spot to EAT! Simple! But actually not so simple.
It really takes some planning. The most difficult part about this is typically sports and extracurricular activities that get in the way during dinner time.
The goal is to work around that. It doesn’t have to be 6 dinners a week together but 6 meals.
Try planning some breakfasts together as a family, maybe 3, 2 lunches a week (Sat and Sunday) and 1 dinner a week at the table. Does that sound more realistic?
There are so many combinations you can come up with, but again, 6 meals together at a table in your home is the goal.
This will allow for good quality family time, where everyone in the household gathers together and enjoys each other’s company without interruptions.
These meals are a great time to talk about whatever you want as a family. Put away the phones, tablets, turn off the TV and music and have a quiet meal where anyone is free to talk about anything. Enjoy this meal together as a family. Your kids will come to appreciate these times when they are older.
5. BE PRESENT-Learn to take off your work hat and put on your family hat when you come home
Speaking of putting down your phone, let’s go ahead and put down your phone when you enter the door coming home from work! Now that can be a challenge! But a good challenge.
Many households have a drop zone when they first enter the house. A drop zone is a specific spot where you can “Drop” your things when you come home. This is the perfect spot for your keys, cell phone, wallet, purse, etc to go.
Find your spot in your home and designate that as your drop zone. Put a basket or something similar there for your phone to go. Now drop it! Drop your phone in the basket every time you come home. The goal is to leave it there and not touch it until a particular time of the day when you need to check it.
Put away your work emails, stop checking for the status of a delivery, don’t answer the phone calls and let it go to voice message, let your text messages sit a while. It’s ok. They can all wait because you are home and you are with your family – the most important thing in your life.
Enjoy being home, enjoy holding your kids and looking them in the eyes, and enjoy a nice heartfelt conversation with your family. You have spent 8 hours (or more) at work today. Your kids deserve your attention for at least _____ hours a day (you, MOM, fill in the blank).
6. Reserve QUALITY TIME for Husband & Wife – Date Night
(recommendation = twice a month)
I have read many marriage books and they all say “Have fun with your spouse”. A lot of marriages fail because the couple just doesn’t have fun together any more. Not like they used to when they were dating.
It’s still possible, even with kids in the picture now, to have fun and to have date nights!
The key to this is SCHEDULING!!! It’s important to schedule quality time with you and your spouse, without the kids around. Schedule a date out of the home, get a baby sitter or ask Gandma to come over. Or, another option is to schedule a date night within the home. This is a good option if you can’t get a babysitter or your schedule doesn’t allow you to go out on an actual date. Or maybe you just don’t want to spend the money on a date because you have other financial goals.
We do this all the time, my husband and I. Since we just had a baby, it’s more of a challenge for me to leave on dates in the evening. Instead, my husband and I will plan an elaborate meal for ourselves, without the kids, and enjoy a movie together at home.
The most important thing is not what you do on your date but whether you are having fun together, just the two of you. Uninterrupted, quality time is what you are aiming for (plus some good belly laughs!)
Pull out your calendar and find two nights where you and your spouse are free. Write in your calendar now and don’t let anything get in it’s way.
7. Make a priority to devote QUALITY TIME with your Children
Since you already have your calendar out, let’s go ahead and schedule quality time with your kids as well. I like to give each kid a special date each month. Since I have 4 kids, I have a rotation system.
Each month, one kids picks a date with daddy, another kid picks a date with mommy and another kids picks a date for the entire family. My baby is too young to participate in this rotation so for now, she’s not included, but when she’s older I plan for the 4th to pick a second family date.
Every month, they rotate so that each one gets a turn having their individual date and their choice of a family date. This makes it extra special for the child and creates great memories. This also ensures that you don’t forget to spend that special quality time one on one with them which can be easily forgotten.
Being a mother is the most important work we will ever do. It’s ok for you to sacrifice time away from your career so you can build a relationship with your kids. At the end of your life are you going to value the money that you earned or are you going to value the children that you raised? Are you going to value the number in your bank account or your family sitting by your side holding your hand?
What’s more valuable to you-WORK or MOTHERING? We typically only have 20 years to spend mothering our children in our home. We roughly have about 50 years (age 20-age 70) to work on our careers.
To me that says we have less time to focus on our children so we better take advantage of those 20 years. You will have plenty of time to focus on your career. Find that balance between work and family so that you don’t regret it years down the road when your kids have moved out of your home and your opportunity is lost.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.